Dec 31, 2011
Jan 17, 2012
Friday morning we got up to head over to Ollantaytambo to catch the train to Aguas Calientes. On the way we stopped at a pottery art studio own by the most famous pottery maker in Peru- Pablo Seminario. We got to meet both Pablo and his wife and we got a tour of the studio and learned how they made all their items. We then walked around Ollantaytambo which is still much as it was during Incan times. Friday was the feast of the Epiphany and so all the locals were all dressed up in their colorful clothing. It was pretty cool to see everyone out in the square enjoying themselves. We also got a look into a local house. The house is really only one room with a bed and a fire for cooking. The room was also full of cuy (guinea pig), cats and dogs. There were also interesting decorations including a baby alpaca hanging on the wall and an area for honoring dead relatives, which included the skull of the dead relative. After the tour of the town we went down to the train station for the hour and 45 min ride to Aguas Calientes- the town below Machu Picchu. We went right from the train station to the public buses transporting the hoards up to Machu Picchu. Oh. Almost forgot to mention that it was pouring when we arrived. Everyone bundled into their rain gear but luckily once we got to the top the rain started to taper off. The bus ride takes about a half hour up a narrow winding road. Machu Picchu itself is quite an amazing site. It is about 6 sq miles and there are tons of different buildings and temples. The mountains are also quite stunning. We spent much of the afternoon exploring around the different areas of Machu Picchu. Not sure how the Inca built what they did. Everything was so well planned and exact! They were able to transport giant rocks from other areas to Machu Picchu and cut them exactly ( without the aid of cutting tools) and then fit them all together. While we were up there the rain and fog lifted and we were treated to awesome views. Also since we were up there later in the afternoon there were not as many tourists. That evening we all had dinner at a local pizza place before returning to our hotel for the evening (located right between the train tracks and the roaring Urubamba river). It was early to bed since we had to be up at 5 am the next day to head back up to Machu Picchu. Tons of more people heading up in the morning. Like lots of ants swarming around the place. Joli, Sara and Sid went on a hike up the Inca trail to the sun gate while Linda, Bob and Frima hung out back down in town. the hike up to the sun gate included many many stairs. And of course it was rainy and foggy again. Didn't have much of a view of Machu Picchu through all the clouds but the hike was still pretty cool. The area around Machu Picchu is high rainforest so you are Pretty much hiking through the jungle. While we struggled up the trail a little Quechua woman in her bright colored garb came cruising past us. After hiking up to the sun gate we wandered around more of Machu Picchu and then headed back down to town to catch the afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo. Beautiful train ride with awesome views of the mountains and the gorge where the Urubamba river flows. We were met by our bus driver (super Mario!) and we continued by bus back to Cusco. The drive was very senic. We had views of glaciers and of the locals out farming and herding their animals. Unfortunately Linda was not feeling well and the winding bus ride through the mountains at 13 thousand ft elevation did not help. We ended up taking Linda to a local clinic one block up from our hotel in Cusco. They ended up keeping her overnight and gave her IV fluids. It turns out she had Giaria, entamoeba coli and salmonella!! Yikes!! For the rest of us we had a nice dinner at the hotel and then fell into bed exhausted from all the hiking and fresh air.